Tag Archives: Dal

Amaranth leaves cooked two ways

Like most green leafy vegetables, Amaranth leaves are rich in vitamins (A & C) and minerals such as potassium, iron, calcium and folate. They can be commonly found in tropical and warm temperate regions of the world and go by different names depending on region. In Andhra Pradesh  they are commonly known as Thotakura. Unlike Red Sorrel (Gongura) leaves, Amaranth leaves don’t have a tart flavor.  We most commonly made dal or pulusu (a tangy stew with tamarind juice).


For the dal:
1/2 bunch amaranth leaves
1 cup toor dal (pigeon peas)
2-3 tbsp tamerind juice
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced (if large)
1 jalapeno sliced
a few curry leaves
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 dry red chili
pinch of turmeric
pinch of asafoetida
cilantro to garnish

al2Stew Ingredients:
1/2 bunch amaranth leaves
1/2 small bottle gourd peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
a few curry leaves
1 tbsp sesame seeds (or powder)
1/2 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp rice flour
1 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 dry red chili
1tsp urad dal
a pinch of turmeric
a pinch of asafoetida

To make the dal, cook toor dal with two cups of water in a bowl stove top or typically I cook mine in a pressure cooker.  Add half chopped amaranth leaves to a large pan, add some water and cook on medium for about 10 minutes, until the leaves wilt and cook. Lightly mash the cooked toor dal with a spatula and add to the bowl containing the amaranth leaves. Add 2-3 tbsp tamarind juice, salt and chili powder  and mix well. Reduce flame and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a pan heat oil. Add turmeric, asafoetida, mustard and cumin seeds, red chilies, and sliced garlic and fry till lightly golden. Add curry leaves and sliced jalapeno and continue frying for another 3-4 minutes.

al1JPGTransfer to the dal bowl. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm.

To make the stew, cook amaranth leaves and chopped bottle gourd with some water in a bowl, until cooked. About 10-15 minutes. Add about 1 cup tamarind juice and mix well. Add salt and red chili powder and mix well. Let simmer on medium low for about 15-20 minutes. In a small bowl  mix 2 tsp rice flour with some water and transfer the mix to the stew. This helps coagulate the stew. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a pan. Add tumeric, asafoetida, sliced garlic, cumin and mustard seeds, urad dal and red chilies and fry till lightly golden. Add sliced jalapeno and curry leaves and fry for 3-4 minutes. Transfer to the stew bowl and mix well.

al4Lightly toast sesame seeds till lightly golden. Grind to powder and add to the stew. Can used mustard powder instead of sesame. Mix well, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm with some rice. We typically ate the stew with some snake gourd cooked with moong dal  or bottle gourd cooked with toor dal or pumpkin and chana dal or something similar.



Cucumber Melon (Dosakaya)

Is an oval, sometimes stripped, tart melon that is popular in South India. This is not to be confused with the slightly sweet, yellow melon found in Asian groceries. It belongs to the cucumber family, and hence is a low calorie food that is packed with nutrients in the form of water or electrolytes.


Three main recipes, that my mother loved to make are: dal, pickle or chutney. Although there are many others out there. In fact you can even dry the seeds and ground to a powder along with other spices and an enjoy with rice or as seasoning!

To make pickle is easy…

1 cucumber melon
2-3 tbsp red ground chilli powder
2-3 tbsp oil
1-2 tbsp mustard powder
Salt to taste

dosakayaRinse and chop the cucumber into half. Remove the pulp and seeds and discard. Slice the cucumber into thin 1/2 inch slices. Add oil, red chilli powder, mustard powder and salt and mix well.

Store in air tight container.  Note can form fungi, if salt is less. Refrigerate to preserve for a longer time period. Serve with some warm rice!


dosakaya2To make dal…

1 cucumber melon
1 cup Toor Dal
1 garlic, peeled and sliced

1 tsp oil
1 tsp channa dal
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/s tsp fenugreek seeds
2-3 dry red chilli
1-2 sliced jalapeno
a dash of turmeric
a dash of asafoetida
a few curry leaves

Cook the dal in 2 cups water stove-top or in a pressure cooker.

Heat the oil, add turmeric, and asafoetida.Add sliced garlic and fry till golden.  Add all seasoning ingredients except jalapeno and curry leaves. Lightly fry till golden. Add jalapeno and curry leaves and fry for a minute. Add cucumber melon and fry for a few seconds.

Add some water and cook in medium low, until it softens. Add some tamarind juice and bring to a boil. Add some red chilli powder and mix well.

Garnish with some cilantro and serve warm with rice 🙂





Methi Dal

I love green leafy vegetables. Spinach. Amaranth. Fenugreek. Red Sorrel. Basil. Kale. Lettuce. Parsley. Cilantro. Mint. You get it!

The one green leafy vegetable I have less patience for is Methi or Fenugreek leaf. Small. Requiring patience to trim.

It reminds me of how patiently my mother trimmed and cooked dal with Methi. I wish I had some of her patience!

This Mother’s day, I coerced myself to clean and cook Methi. It was an excellent lesson in patience.


1/2 bunch Methi or Fenugreek leaves
tamarind juice (approx 1/2 cup or as needed)
1 cup toor dal
1-2 jalapeno
1 garlic, peeled (or as much as you want)
1 tsp oil
1-2 red dry red chilli
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
a pinch of asafoetida
salt to taste
cilantro to garnish
a little paprika or red crush peppermethi2]JPG

Cook toor dal  in a pressure cooker with two cups water or stove top. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add turmeric, asafoetida, cumin, mustard seeds, garlic and red chilli and fry till golden. Add jalapeno, ginger and curry leaves and fry for a minute.

Add trimmed methi leaves and fry for a minute. Add tamarind juice and bring to boil. Reduce flame, mash and add steamed toor dal and cook for 10-15 minutes in medium low.

Add paprika, or red crushed pepper, and mix well. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm with rice or roti.

Can use left over methi to make methi roti.


Enjoy with warm rice or roti!


Another skin you can use

Here’s another fun vegetable that you can make multiple things with. Growing up it was not a favorite with me. The vegetable I am talking about is Luffa or Chinese Okra. I never liked the spicy curry that my mother loved to cook. But totally loved what she did with the skin. While my whole family enjoyed the curry I relished the skin cooked with lentils. The skin can also be made into chutney (see Don’t throw that skin away).

But what to do with the vegetable itself?

One fine day I struck on this alternative and now enjoy both the vegetable and the skin. I peel the skin and cook with yellow gram (toor dal). I fry the vegetable in a little oil and make into a chutney similar to the way I make it with the skin.

skin of one large Chinese okra
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 garlic peeled and cloves sliced
1 tsp split chickpea or chana dal
1 tsp black gram or urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 jalapeno sliced
2-3 dry red chili
pinch of turmeric
salt to taste
some curry leaves
1/2 cup toor dal

Rinse and cook toor dal in 1 cup of water adding more if necessary or can cook in a pressure cooker. Set aside.

Use a food processor or chopper to grind the skin of the Chinese okra and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan. Add turmeric, garlic, chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chili and fry till lightly brown. Add curry leaves and jalapeno and fry for 1 minute. Add the processed chinese okra skin and continue frying for 5-10 minutes on medium low flame.

Add the cooked toor dal and mix well. Add salt to taste.

Serve hot with roti or warm rice.


It’s always a pleasure to step out into my garden and pick my greens fresh from the plant. Last time I was in Chicago, in addition to the Cabbage Uttapam recipe, I came away with saplings for Gongura or Red Sorrel Leaves. One of my favorite green leafy vegetables that is scarce to find here. My friend Anu had sowed the seeds in two raised beds. All had sprouted and looked fresh and healthy. She was gracious enough to share a few saplings of amaranth and red sorrel leaves. I am equally amazed that they survived my 4-week absence!

Stepping outdoors I saw these fresh greens and my mind was on Gongura Pappu or Red Sorrel Leaves Dal. My mother always made it with a lot of garlic and it was always tasty and  refreshing! Dal in South India is always made with Toor Dal and tamarind. If the vegetable is tart, there is no need to add tamarind such as with mango and sorrel leaves. Also sometimes adding tomato will suffice such as with spinach and methi.

Here’s how I make mine…

1 cup  Toor dal
1/2 bunch red sorrel leaves or as needed/available
1 whole garlic peeled and sliced (if cloves are big or use whole)
2-3 dry red chilli leaves
1 green jalapeno
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
touch of turmeric
touch of asafoetida
curry leaves
ginger (chopped)
salt to taste

I always pre-cook my dal in a pressure cooker with 2 cups water.

In a large bowl, heat 1 tbsp olive oil, add turmeric, asafoetida, cumin and mustard seeds and peeled garlic cloves. Once the garlic is lightly brown, add curry leaf, chopped ginger, sliced jalapeno and chopped sorrel leaves and fry for 5 minutes. Add the cooked dal and cook on low flame adding water as necessary for 10-15 minutes. Add salt and red chilli powder and mix well.

Top with chopped cilantro and serve hot with sona masuri rice and ghee!

Brown Rice Uttapam with Cabbage

When I visited my friend Anu in Chicago last time, she made this for breakfast. Seeing her toss cabbage into batter and make uttapams I was surprised. “Really, cabbage in uttapam?” I asked her. I wouldn’t have thought of doing that. But it was excellent! Especially with the simple, fast chutney she made. Roasted peanuts, garlic, whole red chilli and tamarind ground with some water. No seasoning. No need to turn on the stove. That too was tasty and excellent.

Cabbage is such a bland vegetable that I am always at a loss on how best to create something exciting with it. The one or two recipes I commonly use cabbage in long exhausted, these days I rarely buy cabbage when I go grocery shopping. So it was a pleasant change to find a refreshing new use for cabbage.

Continuing my resolve for healthy eating and fitness (see Spinach on my mind), I decided to make brown rice uttapam for brunch for the weekend. To see the recipe for making the batter see my posting on brown rice idli here. Uttapam is a traditional South Indian breakfast and different people use different batter and ingredients in different ratios. I have evolved my recipe based on what works for my palate. For the traditional recipe I use to make idli/uttapam batter check here.

To make batter from scratch requires planning and preparation. Rice and dal need to be soaked at least for 8 hrs before blending into almost smooth batter. Then another 8-12 hrs or longer for proper fermentation. But once that is done, you can use the batter to make different dishes. The batter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Here is the chutney recipe I used. Since I was short on peanuts, I ended up using 1/2 cup peanuts with some coconut and roasted dal. You can never go wrong with these ingredients. It was scrumptious!

1 cup roasted peanuts
5-6 dry red chilli
2-3 garlic cloves
some tamarind paste or fresh
cliantro (optional)
1 green jalapeno (optional)
salt to taste

Toss all in a blender and add some water and blend to a smooth paste. Alternately you can also add coconut, roasted sesame seeds, cashews, and/or roasted dal. Any combination of these can also be used. Always adjust spices and salt for personal preference.

Mango Dal

1 cup Toor Dal
1 raw green mango
1-2 drumsticks (optional)

1-2 dry red chillies
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp olive oil
pinch of turmeric
salt to taste
a few curry leaves
1-2 green chilies sliced (optional)
ginger chopped fine
cilantro chopped fine

Rinse the dal in water and cook in a pressure cooker with two cups of water until 4-5 whistles or the dal is fully softened when cooked in an open pan. Heat some oil in a pan and add  turmeric, mustard, cumin and fenugreek seeds and fry till lightly brown. Add curry leaves, sliced green chilies and ginger and fry for 1 minute. Cut drumsticks into 2 inch pieces if using fresh drumsticks or use cut frozen ones. Add chopped mango and drumsticks to the pan and continue cooking in medium flame with a little water.

Mash the cooked dal with a spoon or a hand mixer and add to the pan once the mango softens and drumsticks are cooked. Continue cooking in low flame for 5-10 minutes. Add salt to taste and red chilli powder (optional).

Variations to this can include using green leafy vegetable such as spinach or amaranth leaves or adding garlic (fried in oil with the other seasonings).

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with sona masuri rice and ghee.

See also:
Celebrate end of summer with Mango